A CSM’s Guide to Fostering a Culture of Product Experimentation

In this write-up, we have discussed how CSMs can foster a culture of product experimentation.

A CSM’s Guide to Product Experimentation
A CSM’s Guide to Product Experimentation

Being a Customer Success Manager is not an easy task. The role demands you to stay on your toes to ensure that customers are continually getting the solution to their problems. SaaS products can have a variety of alternatives of solution and the plethora of options create confusion as to what solution will best suit the customers. To find the best match of customers’ problems and your solution you need just one thing – product experimentation!

One of the key forces behind the success of companies, especially functioning in the digital arena, is their experimentation culture. On one hand, we can witness new companies taking over long-established competitors, literally overnight. On the other hand, there are established companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon that have created a highly sustainable competitive advantage over others in the market. In both cases, a culture of experimentation is seen as the common driving force behind growth and success. Read on to understand the process of developing the culture of experimentation in your company.  

What is a Culture of Product Experimentation?

Before we dive into the tips to develop the culture of product experimentation in your organization, let us talk a bit about the culture of product experimentation. It is important to understand the meaning and importance of developing a product experimentation culture so that you can make an informed decision.

A company or an organization can be said to have an experimentation culture when the teams can accept the uncertainty in the product development process and they are always willing to try different sets of methods to find the right fitting solution for the problems of their target audience. The teams look at experimentation as a powerful user research technique rather than an option of the last resort.

In a company with a culture of product experimentation, thinking of new ideas is no one’s monopoly; every member of the organization can come up with an idea to make their product better for the customers. No idea is judged on the merit of the person proposing the idea. Every new idea is considered important unless proved otherwise through brainstorming and experimentation. Failed experiments, in these organizations, is seen as a learning opportunity and not something that needs to be avoided at all cost.

Importance of Product Experimentation Culture

Product experimentation culture is one of the best traits of any successful SaaS company. It provides a sharp edge over the competitors without the culture of product experimentation. Let us see some of the common advantages of having a product experimentation culture in your organization.

  • Increased Enthusiasm in Team Members – When an organization has a product experimentation culture, every member of the product team becomes more willing to contribute new ideas for the betterment of your SaaS product. This makes every member feel enthusiastic to be an equal part of the product of your organization.
  • Better Understanding of Customers – Frequent experiments for finding out what is approved and what is not approved by your customers help your product development team understand your customers better. The better you understand your customer the better would be your decisions. The better your product decisions the better would be growth opportunities for your company.
  • Increased Rate of Customer Satisfaction – When a company regularly updates its products to better meet the customers’ needs it becomes more likely that their rate of customer satisfaction would increase exponentially. When you are experimenting to find an even better solution to your customers’ needs your customers will naturally be more satisfied.
  • Significantly Decreased Rate of Risks – Companies that avoid smaller chunks of experiments on a regular basis faces more complex problems at a wider level. When you experiment on each and every smaller aspect you don’t suddenly get into larger mistakes. You can commit mistakes at MVP level rather than doing a blunder that can cost you much.
  • Substantial and Statistical Proofs for Stakeholders – Because all your decisions are based on experiments, you know the reason behind your every decision. Your experiments provide you with statistical data to back your decisions. These statistical data increase the trust of your stakeholders in your decisions and in your organization.

A Guide for Fostering a Culture of Product Experimentation

The above discussions gave you the idea that how important can the culture of product experimentation can be for your business growth and development. But, it is not enough to know that this is important for your organization. You must know how to foster this experimentation culture in your organization.

Read on to know the step-by-step process for building the culture of product experimentation in your organization and put it on the track of faster and more sustainable growth and development.

Create a Team of Innovative and Enthusiastic Members

The first step in developing a product experimentation culture is to bring individuals with a growth mindset. You need to have such members in your team who are innovative and also enthusiastic towards their work. If you have such people in your team who only want to follow instructions you cannot expect any great result. It is important to have people who love their work and are ready to go extra mile for creating a product that satisfies your customers. So, if you need to reshuffle your team by bringing some new faces and putting aside some old ones do that without any hesitation.

Create a Multifaceted Team

The second thing that you need to take care of after the growth mindset is the technical skills of your team members. A homogenous group in terms of skillsets is never a good idea especially when we are talking about product development. You need a product manager who can view the new idea from the angle of value and viability. You need a product designer who can brainstorm about the usability of the new suggested idea for product development. You need a tech lead to talk about the feasibility of the proposed idea. Further, you need a person experienced in product experimentation data so that lessons from failed experiments can be drawn to build on the team experience. Adding people with different skillsets can make your team a multifaceted team that can see a problem-solution fit from all angles.

Start Experimenting with a Defined Direction

Once you have created your best possible team for product experimentation, you will have to start the real work – experimentation. But, experimenting does not mean that you and your team can go in any direction. You have to decide a direction in which you want and need your product experimentation to lead. Once you have decided the direction, let’s say you want an increased product conversion rate, you need to define the key metrics. Having clearly defined key metrics helps you measure your success in the right direction. You will also need to define an attainable goal for your key metrics in a well-defined time frame. Deciding direction, metrics, and time helps your team stay on track even when they are experimenting. Directionless experiments lead you nowhere.

Prepare Yourself to Embrace Failure

It is natural for you to expect success on the first go when you have taken care of everything in advance. But, experiments can have any result – success or failure. You and your team need to be prepared to embrace failure just as you will celebrate your success. In fact, you should not see a failed experiment as a failure but as a learning experience. This mindset will make experimentation a win-win situation for your organization. If your experiment is successful you win, if your experiment fails you learn something new. Your team needs to gauge risks related to an experiment and take the recoverable risks to understand customers better. No one should feel the burden of coming up with an idea that would guarantee a 100% successful result; this will only cause experiment paralysis and ruin all your effort to develop a culture of product experimentation.16

Final Thoughts

A culture of product experimentation is one of the most effective success strategies for any SaaS business. Every big or small successful SaaS companies have thriving experimentation culture and it is no secret in the market. Any Customer Success Manager aiming for a high customer success rate need to foster a culture of product experimentation in their organization. It is because experimentation is the most effective way to understand customers well and find the best problem-solution fit in your product. You can cultivate the culture of product experimentation in your organization by creating the right team with the right members, setting the right metrics, and nurturing the mindset of embracing failure and celebrating success. This will set your business on the fast track to success.      

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  • To understand how SmartKarrot can helps SaaS companies keep and grow loyal customers, Request a Demo.

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